Whilst I adore soups and broths, most of my experience with them has been Korean dishes so even at the age of 26, I’m still quite unfamiliar with a lot of Western-style soups. My exposure to most of the ones I know happened when I was in primary school and a family friends mother bought/discovered the blender.
She thought herself quite the cook, and while her Korean cooking wasn’t bad (though honestly it was quite wretched in comparison to my mothers), her explorations into Western cuisine were abysmal, and left me horrified every time that we went over for dinner. The month that she discovered the blender, I was subjected to two of the most disgusting dishes I’ve ever put into my mouth – her pea and ham soup, and her tomato soup.
I’m not going to call her lazy, but her assumption was that these Western soups were just ingredients blended and boiled, so the soups of hers that I experienced were both bland and horrible at the same time. I hate to say it, but these childhood scars stuck with me through life, so that every time since that I’ve come across either of these soups, I’ve become quite visibly paler and backed away fairly quickly. I managed to avoid them fairly well, until I went to my best mates home for a dinner and telly sesh (we get together every Sunday night to have dinner and watch the hilariously craptastic Gladiators, Grey’s Anatomy and Brothers and Sisters together) and I was informed that she had made tomato soup for dinner.
Not to be ingracious to the wonderful host, I quickly volunteered to have the smallest serving, then carried my soup mug to the lounge room, plonked on the couch and hesitantly lifted the spoon to my mouth. Taking a cautious sniff, I warily brought the spoon to my lips and took a sip. WOW! What…what was this? This amazing smooth yet textured delight that tasted wonderfully of tomatoes yet had a freshness that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Pacing myself, I savoured every spoonful till I was left mournfully scraping the sides of my mug and wishing for more but alas, there was none to be had.
Grabbing the recipe from her, I made the soup the next chance I had and enjoyed every drop of it, and I can now confess that I love tomato soup – well, this version anyway.
While I’m glad that I decided to give it a try and have this new experience that has even made me appreciate celery (a vegetable which I quite detest) and discover a love of this soup, I’m afraid that the mere thought of pea and ham soup still makes my stomach feel tender…at least for now.
Fresh Tomato Soup
750g roma (plum) tomatoes
3 sticks of celery, washed and trimmed
1 large brown onion
1 1/2 cups reduced salt vegetable stock
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp reduced salt tomato paste
1 tsp sugar (this helps counteract the acidity of the tomatoes)
Salt and pepper, to taste
80g risoni pasta (or orzo, whichever you have handy)
1. Cut a cross into the base of the tomatoes and blanch so you can slip off the skins. Roughly chop tomatoes, celery, onion and garlic.
2. Heat a little olive oil in a pot over a medium flame, then add the chopped vegetables and saute for 5 minutes and then place the lid on the pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or till the celery is soft. Pour cooked veg into a blender and blitz till it has become a smooth puree, then press through a sieve to remove any tough fibres that will ruin the texture of the soup.
3. Add the strained puree back to the pot and stir through the stock, tomato paste, salt, sugar and pepper. Once it is well combined, add the risoni and bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat, cooking till the pasta has gone soft.
4. Serve piping hot, with a decent hunk of crusty bread for mopping up the soup.
[tags]tomato soup, soup, risoni, pasta, vegetarian, recipe[/tags]